Jazz Setlist, May 20-26: Mary Lou Williams, Jimmy Scott and More
Thursday, May 20
As I mentioned in last week's summer music issue, this is the 15th anniversary of the Kennedy Center's Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival. Left out, however, was the fact that this is also Williams' centennial. The composer, arranger, and pianist (who died in 1981) left behind an exhaustive and ambitious body of work that stands as proof of the festival's main statement: That female contributors have always, from the beginning to today, been crucial to jazz's development. Fitting that tonight's opener (the festival continues through Saturday) should feature Williams' music played by a veritable supergroup of jazz women: vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater (also the festival's co-host) fronting saxophonist Grace Kelly, pianist Geri Allen, bassist Esperanza Spalding, and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime lineups, which is why you've gotta make it to the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, 2700 F Street NW, at 7 PM. $45.
Friday, May 21
They call him Little Jimmy Scott. He's short, 5'7", slight, and has a high, alto voice. But it's not a little voice. When Scott sings, the sound cuts through everything else in the room. Better still, it soars. Scott loves to sing and even now, just before his 85th birthday, the joy is contagious. He's also supremely confident with the songs in his repertoire, many of which he's been working with for the better part of six decades; the boldness of his performance means that none of it has aged a day. He's an NEA Jazz Master and a Kennedy Center Living Legend, among other major honors. "Little" Jimmy, indeed — the man is a monster, a brilliant artist and a national treasure. He performs at 8:30 and 10:30 PM at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $50.
Saturday, May 22
The summer music issue also mentioned pianist Uri Caine and his Bedrock Trio, which were scheduled for this week at a Library of Congress performance. However, LOC's Larry Appelbaum gives word that there has been a slight change of plans. Caine is not bringing the Bedrock Trio, but an acoustic jazz trio featuring John Hébert on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums. Does this make for a less essential concert? Not in the slightest. Whatever the context, Caine turns convention on its ear with generous stylistic twists: his classical training; his fondness for klezmer; world music; rock; and whatever else happens to tickle his fancy that night. Add to that one of the most alluring and underappreciated venues in town — the Atlas Performing Arts Center — plus preshow discussion between Caine and Appelbaum, and what's not to enjoy? The Uri Caine Trio performs at 6:15 PM at the Atlas Theater, 1333 H Street NE. Free.